'Green laners' smashed woman's phone after she took a photo of them off-roading

It is the latest episode in what is rapidly becoming an unpleasant weekly stand-off between off-roaders and rural residents.

Holme Valley South councillor Donald Firth inspects damage to a green lane route used by bikers and 4×4 drivers. (Image: Andy Catchpool)

Police are investigating an incident in which “green laners” smashed a woman’s mobile phone after she photographed their activity on a country road in the Holme Valley.

The incident happened earlier this month when a woman walking her dog near Holmfirth was confronted by a convoy of green laners late at night.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

The i newsletter cut through the noise

Witnesses said the woman’s phone was snatched from her hand after she took a photograph.

It was then thrown to the ground and stamped on.

Green laning, in which trail bikes and 4x4s tackle dirt tracks, narrow lanes and winding roads categorised as BOATs (byways open to all traffic), is legal and not prohibited by law.

However in recent weeks police have seized some illegal vehicles.

The escalating nature of the conflict between rural communities and visitors in 4x4s and vans carrying motorbikes is alarming to some.

Local councillor Donald Firth, who represents Holme Valley South for the Conservatives, said he was “appalled” by the latest incident, which he described as “an assault”.

He said: “This lady was accosted by a green laner.

“They snatched the phone from her, took it away, then threw it on the road and stamped on it.

“They didn’t want to be photographed.”

Police officers who attended are said to have spoken to the drivers of three 4x4s and booked one for “performing off-piste illegal activity”.

Two motorbikes were also seized.

All three vehicles had been driving on tracks forming part of the Peak Park at Holme Moss.

West Yorkshire Police said: ” Enquiries are underway following a report a woman’s phone was snatched and damaged by males in an incident on Rakes Head Road, Holmfirth at about 11.15pm on May 3.

“A crime of assault has been recorded in relation to the incident and enquiries are underway by Kirklees Police.”

Resident Andy Wilson said it was time for a “unified solution” to green laning as the phenomenon is district-wide and attracts vehicles from as far away as Leicestershire and Liverpool.

He added: “Right now we have a piecemeal approach. The council has the solution. The police should not be faced with this problem. The council is dragging its heels.”

The council intends to introduce a Public Spaces Protection Order (PSPO) at Yateholme in Holmbridge near Holmfirth, which would create a restricted area for four-wheeled vehicles.

Any unauthorised drivers could face a fine of up to £1,000.

It would prohibit unlicensed four-wheeled vehicles. However motorcycles would not be affected.